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Mr. Contrarian "comedy-dee-vine" (Seattle, WA United States)

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Goldberg Variations
Goldberg Variations
Price: CDN$ 9.97
33 used & new from CDN$ 4.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't CLICK for me., March 27 2004
This review is from: Goldberg Variations (Audio CD)
I really wanted to like this performance, because I admire and like Murray Perahia. But it didn't work out. The main reason is that this recording has an irregular but repeated "clicking" noise which, although quiet, sounds like the disc might be defective.
But, if you read below, other people hear it too. Some people say that these noises are from the fingernails of Perahia. Whatever they are, the distraction was more that I could bear -- worse than Glenn Gould's humming, and much worse than any recording where I can hear musicians flipping their musical score, or creaking in their chair. Oddly, such a noise would probably get hidden on a vinyl LP record, but modern digital discs with digital recording just amplifies every flaw. I simply couldn't take it.
Too bad, because many people say this is one of the best performances of Goldberg Variations, as well as one of Perahia's best recordings. So, listen before you buy. If you don't like it, then try Angela Hewitt. She plays a lovely Goldberg Variations. In fact, all of her Bach piano is nearly definitive.

Goldberg Variations (1955 Debu
Goldberg Variations (1955 Debu
Price: CDN$ 9.97
36 used & new from CDN$ 6.22

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you want the Fugues too?, March 24 2004
I love both of Glenn Gould's versions of Goldberg Variations, the first in 1955 (this one) made him famous, while the last one in 1981 was his swan song. The 1981 version definitely has the fuller modern sound and Gould goes deeper, yet 1955 is historic, the sound is still excellent, and Gould's technique is just amazing! However, this particular packaging includes more than Goldberg Variations. Two fugues from Well Tempered Clavier are added to the end. Good music definitely, but personally, I just want the Goldberg Variations with no additives. If you don't object to the extras, then by all means get this CD. But if you are like me, look for the older "Great Performances" version by CBS/Columbia. It has only Goldberg Variations, with no fugues.
If you are new to Glenn Gould, just remember that even now, twenty years after his death, his work remains controversial. Everyone agrees that he was a masterful pianist, one of the best ever, but many people just don't like his eccentric approach to Bach. They find the fast parts too fast, and slow is too slow. In the 1981 version, many object to Gould's tuneless humming in the background. Eccentric? You bet. But nobody else could even get away with it. "That nut is a genius," as Szell was once heard to quip.
Anyone who finds Gould too eccentric, or perverse, should try Angela Hewitt or Rosalyn Tureck. I love their versions of Goldberg Variations too! Rosalyn Tureck spent her entire career of about 60 years studying Bach, and recorded Goldberg Variations at least three times. All are excellent. Angela Hewitt is just masterful, and plays with sheer devotion.

Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modern Version of an Ancient Classic, Feb. 10 2004
This review is from: Tao Te Ching (Hardcover)
Tao Te Ching is ancient, now a couple of millenia in print. Stephen Mitchell has not translated this classic, but rather has paraphrased it -- as he admits in the Foreward. But he is a Zen student of a couple of decades and has good insight into the Zen of the Tao (Zen Buddhism is Buddhism heavily dosed with Taoism).
Mitchell's version of the Tao Te Ching is very, even extremely, modern. Perhaps to the point of being "politically correct." However, he does have a way with words and this is a very readable version of the Tao. To show how modern it is, let's take an example and compare his version of the beginning of chapter 46 with two other versions:
- Mitchell
"When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities."
- Victor Mair
"When the Way prevails under heaven,
swift horses are relegated to fertilizing fields.
When the Way does not prevail under heaven,
war-horses breed in the suburbs."
- Addiss & Lombardo
"With TAO under heaven
Stray horses fertilze the fields.
Without TAO under heaven,
Warhorses are bred at the frontier."
Obviously, there were no factories, trucks, tractors, or warheads in ancient China. So, Mitchell is providing a modern interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, while Mair as well as Addiss & Lombardo are closer to a literal translation (which is not possible however, because the Chinese language and the English language are so completely different from one another.)
None of this is to find fault with Stephen Mitchell. This is just to say that his book cannot be definitive, because it is less literal and not really a translation. However it is good, compelling reading, and honestly makes no pretense of being a literal translation. If you like Mitchell's approach, get one of the more literal translations too. I bet Stephen Mitchell himself would like you to have both.

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